by Judy Stamp Humphrey (Judith Stamp)
Publisher: Advancement Press of America
Segregation and Integration: A Geography of People in Metropolitan Detroit
From the Introduction:
Kerner Commission) toward "two societies : one black, one white - separate and unequal." [Otto Kerner and others, Report of the National Advisory Commission of Civil Disorders (New York: Bantam Books, 1968), p. 1]
There are many signs of the tension in the suburbs. There is suburbanites' fear and avoidance of the inner city. There is the emotional groundswell of opposition to metropolitan busing to achieve racial integration of school children. And there is Warren's rejection of urban renewal funds in fear of pressure from the Federal government to bring low-income housing to the suburb.
At the edges of the two societies there is residential invasion by Blacks and flight by Whites to the suburbs. In the racially-mixed high schools of neighborhoods in transition, the tension often breaks into open conflict and such incidents only serve to reinforce suburban fears of racial integration.
More serious than the tension in the suburbs and the sporadic conflict between teenagers caught in the middle, are the antisocial conditions in the central city which give rise to black disillusionment and white fears. Cut off from the accepted middle-class routes to self-fulfillment and productivity, young Blacks nonetheless are conditioned to want the psychological and material rewards of success. Good education in an atmosphere of high motivation is beyond their reach, as is mobility in rewarding fields of work. Many then turn to accessible livelihoods in petty or grand drug traffic and crime to reach their objectives. They build a subculture in which the values of the main society, and hence its laws, are considered irrelevant.
In a positive vein, the subculture has fostered the development of black self-consciousness and pride and black community. These are given cultural expression in a thousand ways from black studies and black enterprise to religion and rock.
The positive contributions of black culture have not allayed suburbanites' fears of street violence, however. The riots of the summer of 1967 followed years of growing disillusionment at unfulfilled promises of social change. Tensions in the black community found vent in a destructive rebellion which tore their inner city home apart. The conditions against which young Blacks rebelled have changed little since then. And although the rebellion did not presage a feared massive revolt of the black poor, neither did it spark the change of heart and behavior called for by the Kerner Commission in the months following the riot, to reverse the trend toward two separate societies.
We have not yet witnessed a change of social direction toward a society whose members would have equal access to our wealth of resources for self-fulfillment. Neither have we begun to close the gap between haves and have-nots by an "enrichment policy" – a redistribution of resources from rich to poor areas.
Segregation in Detroit, as in much of urban America, is not only between the white middle-class and the black poor. Others also face obstacles to participation in the productive mainstream of an industrial city. Smaller groups of urban newcomers: Southern Whites, Mexican Americans and American Indians are barred from full social and economic integration and are segregated in small-scale ghettos in the inner city.
The flotsam and jetsam of industrial society, together with the new counterculture [Charles Reich in Greening of America (New York: Random House, 1970), calls this group "Consciousness III", a counterculture rediscovering individuality, freedom, community. Ch. 9.] also find separate places in the central city. Old pushouts and young dropouts, often with the aid of alcohol or drugs, move in, stay a while, and move on.
And what of the haves? The middle class and the wealthy in the suburbs enjoy a material standard of living unequalled by counterparts elsewhere in the world today or in the past. Yet there is a great deal of unhappiness. The tensions are not solely due to fear, or the demands of the poor. There is conflict between husband and wife, and between parent and child. There are men and women who feel trapped in roles where they feel personal fulfillment is lacking. Children of the middle-class are bored or disillusioned with material surfeit, and alienated from their parents' apparent docility in their roles. Often they leave home early seeking new lifestyles in the counterculture.
These problems have been catalogued again and again, and their relationship to each other has been explored by several notable authors. They are seen to be deeply interrelated, and can be attributed to the nature of industrial society and its goals. John Kenneth Galbraith notes:
"If we continue to believe that the goals of the industrial system – the expansion of output, the companion increase in consumption, technological advance, the public images that sustain it – are coordinate with life, then all of our lives will be in service of these goals. What is consistent with these ends we shall have or be allowed; all else will be off limits." [John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1967), Ch. 35.]
Have we not reached this condition already? Consistent with man's "benign servitude" to this framework of economic goals are strong drives toward competition, individualism and independence.
Charles Reich notes:
"... The suburbs to which [most people] return at night are... places of loneliness and alienation. Modern living has obliterated place, locality and neighborhood and given us the anonymous separateness of our existence." [Charles Reich, op cit., p. 9.]
The home-seeker is offered a comfortable but bland environment devoid of the need for social involvement and lacking in the sense of community that is produced by such involvement. Though his sense of ''something missing" may be nameless, it has repercussions in the tensions in the suburbs mentioned earlier: the need to protect the homogeneity of this dearly-bought environment from feared incursions by the poor and by Blacks, and in the parent-child hostilities engendered by fears of the youths' counterculture. Philip Slater explains these fears in terms of Freudian psychology: 5
"When a fear seems out of proportion [we suspect] that it has been bloated by a wish; and this seems particularly likely when the danger is defined as a psychological one - an evil influence. We fear storms and wild beasts, but we do not censor them. If we must guard ourselves against evil influences we thereby admit their seductive appeal." [Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness: American Culture at the Breaking Point (Boston: Beacon Press, 1970), Ch.1.]
Slater sees "three human desires that are deeply and uniquely frustrated by American culture: They are the desire for community... the desire for engagement... and the desire for dependence." The character of suburban anti-communities is voluntarily created and maintained in close correspondence with the goals of the industrial economic system. At the same time the secondary yearnings of community and involvement are frustrated, and it is this suppression that brings about the suburban tensions.
In this study we will identify the areas of metropolitan Detroit which exemplify the characteristics described above. After a brief summary of the growth of Detroit showing the increasing size and diversity of the city with progressive industrialization, we examine the social segregation in Detroit. The three constructs of segregation are income, culture and age.
Finally, in Chapter IV, the prospect of integration in restored communities is considered. In the Detroit area there are a few regions and institutions that have at least partial integration of cultures, income groups or generation groups, and their strengths and weaknesses and potential for expansion are examined in the evaluation.
"Few of us realize that it is the Prince of Disciplines, combining the fruits of geology, meteorology, anthropology, sociology, economics and dozens of other specialties. The good geographer is a philosopher."
– Carlton S. Coon
[Caravan: Story of the Middle East (Rev. ed.; New York: Holt and Co., 1962, p. 10.]
The geographer's traditional role has been to describe the character of man's world in an orderly way. Anything that can be tied to a particular location in space can be subject to his analysis. But because of the world's complexity, he must be selective, and his perceptions on the nature of the world's spatial "order" are crucial to the fruitfulness of his efforts.
The geographer is also a scientist, and in addition to perceptions or intuitions which are a basis for theories he has several analytic tools at his command. Of first importance is the map, onto which all representations of spatial reality are projected. The concept of "region" is also central. A region is an area of any size that is homogeneous in terms of selected criteria. It is a spatial "category," and is used in several types of geographic analysis. In addition to analysis which seeks to determine regions, there is locational and ecological analysis. In the former the goal is to determine "the why of the where of things." In the latter the concern is with in situ environmental relationships. In each approach the virtue rests not in delineating a special field of "facts" but in the ability to perceive, analyze, and synthesize all facts relevant to a particular situation in space.
Finally, the geographer can also be a practitioner of social change. He can illuminate problem areas and pinpoint those that need prompt action. And, as in the case of this study, he can focus on areas which demonstrate at least a partial solution to particular problems so as to consider their application elsewhere.
The following is an article from the Detroit Free Press that came out shortly after the publication of Segregation and Integration:
Adding Vitality to Detroit Values
by John Askins, Free Press Staff Writer
Detroit Free Press, Monday, August 19, 1974 - Page 25
The geography of isolation is as follows: Detroiters, urban and suburban. are separated according to wealth, race and age like piles of materials in a factory yard.
That is, in Judy Humphrey's opinion, why both city and suburb lack diversity and therefore vitality. To her, Detroit is a prime example of what happens when the techniques of industrial man - such as standardization - become the values of social man.
Other human values are suppressed. Life becomes lonelier, more predictable, safer but duller and less meaningful.
Ms. Humphrey herself does not lack vitality; she exudes it, like an athlete. When she talks about the sameness of Detroit areas, frustrated sociability bubbles in her eyes. Her written words arc carefully professional, somewhat dispassionate at times. even. But the same spirit ultimately emerges.
"It is our thesis that much human tension on the urban scene is the result of adherence to economic goals set by the industrial system," she wrote in a 1972 geographic study called "Segregation and Integration."
"In human terms, bigness is anti-community, and specializing for efficiency means segregating people into homogenous regions where social involvement is minimal."
Judy Humphrey is a cheerful, rather intense woman of 33 who teaches at Wayne State University as an assistant professor of geography. She is in the process of getting divorced and she recently bought a home in Highland Park for herself and her children; she chose Highland Park because it is a racially integrated city and small enough to be wrestled with. Ms. Humphrey believes geographers can also be agents of social change.
For many people, the word geography summons up dry memories of tracing maps of various countries and memorizing the commodities they were known for. But geography these days is rather broader than that. As Ms. Humphrey has said, anything that can be related to a particular location in physical space can be subject to the geographer's analysis.
In her 1972 federally financed study. Ms. Humphrey superimposed statistical data on maps of physical Detroit to show the geographic distribution of families with various income levels, ethnic cultures, races, income groups, ages, occupations, and various school achievement levels.
The results, although previously known, still have impact when they are presented so graphically: The old, the poor, the black, the under-employed and under-educated, as well as the broken homes and vacant buildings are concentrated in Detroit proper. Moreover, each is concentrated in its own special area, although some of these, of course, overlap.
On these maps the suburbs mostly show up as large white spaces, empty of the dots and slanted lines and cross-hatching that indicate conditions other than whiteness, middle-classness and ethnic anonymity.
Ms. Humphrey describes suburbia as "a comfortable but bland environment devoid of the need for social involvement and lacking in the sense of community that is produced by such involvement.
"Though (the) sense of 'something missing' may be nameless, it has repercussions in the tensions in the suburbs mentioned earlier: The need to protect the homogeneity of this dearly-bought environment from feared incursions by the poor and by blacks, and in the parent-child hostilities engendered by fears of the youth's counter-culture," she said.
She was born in England but grew up mostly in South Africa, where she developed a hatred of racial segregation. Her studies in geography, particularly urban geography, have given her a broader view of racial segregation as the most pernicious but not the only example of how 20th century Americans attempt to classify and order themselves like so many sizes of machine bolts.
Behind that attempt, though she does not delve into it, may lie a rather pathetic need to simplify things in a world grown increasingly complex and unmanageable. What we need more than anything else, it seems, are specific practical techniques for dealing with the facts about the modern world that make us so anxious. Such techniques Ms. Humphrey does not offer – but then, neither does anyone else.
She can only pose an ideal city, one where myriad cultures, life-styles, points of view bounce off each other like dodge-'em cars, to the general enjoyment of all. Toronto is, to her, that sort of city. Detroit is not. Nor is Highland Park.
But she has some hope that it can be changed. Her urban geography students have recently completed a survey study of the city aimed at discovering how residents, particularly teens, use the city and how they interact.
Preliminary findings seem to indicate a gulf between young and old. Ms. Humphrey would like to see them brought together to make a community where there is now little but mutual dislike. She plans, in fact, to take the survey findings to Highland Park block clubs and try to establish some sort of inter-generational dialogue on mutual problems.
Detroiters hardly talk about racial segregation publicly any more, and have never talked very much about the other kinds. Integration as an ideal has fallen from public favor. But Ms. Humphrey makes it clear that integration of all sorts is exactly what we need.
"What is missing for city and suburban dweller alike," she has written, "is a sense of wholeness – an identity beyond his immediate economic or domestic role that provides a sense of personal integrity. Also missing, at the interpersonal scale, are (the) essential social characteristics of community, engagement and dependence…
"It is obvious that while physical need is heavily concentrated in the inner city, psychological need is widespread throughout the urban area."